As did countless parents on October 31st, we approached Halloween with a similar enthusiasm that we reserve for discussions about Santa Claus during Christmastime and birthdays in April and June. Jrue was ready to attempt to join a fictional police force for Halloween, and we thought it clever to coordinate Jai with his ambitions. What better to stereotypically “go with” a police officer than a donut?
Jai was a donut. With sprinkles.
We couldn’t resist the temptation.
Our family’s holiday tradition for three years running has been to attend the Halloween dinner at my boss’s home, then trick-or-treat with his daughter’s younger children in their idyllic neighborhood filled with neighbors who project the most avid Halloween spirit I never knew existed. The majority of the 2- and 3-story homes, dressed quite festively for the holiday, carry individual architectural appeals that dazzle me, which is usually the motivation behind my viewing excitement. From past experience, I knew that the sweetest people answered my son’s trick-or-treating requests and often initiate a pleasant conversation about the weather while exclaiming how cute my son is.
Not to mention the providing of lots of candy bars. One woman asked if my children had any peanut allergies. I was grateful for her Reese’s Cups and the unprecedented attention to my children’s health needs.
This Halloween was no exception. The overall trick-or-treating odyssey with the kids was actually endearing for the full 45-minute walking tour. This was surprising coming off of the tumultuous last year’s trick-or-treating…when Jai, as “Little Bo Peep” refused her stroller and demanded to be carried through the neighborhood as I steered a tense toddler Jrue in a “Thomas the Train” costume. Jai is now starting to mature to the idea of free and widespread candy pickup, as she rode in her stroller contentedly and even waved “bye-bye” to several people, eliciting squeals of delight. Mommy and daddy received plenty of cardio pushing the strollers up gentle slopes. There were no major snafus.
But there was one minor wardrobe malfunction: At one point, my son stood at the end of a driveway with his pants around his ankles.
I guess the drawstring on his pants had loosened, even though he had worn the pants that morning to school and throughout the day. The hubs and I were preoccupied in preparing to plop the kids into their strollers while Jrue announced, “Miss Mommy! Miss Mommy! Dodkodkdpweoi…pants.” I dismissed his babbling conversation with, “Yes, you’re wearing pants, Jrue.” He replied, “No pants.” Fellow trick-or-treating families nearby giggled in empathy as I looked down at him and his sudden exposure. “Jrue!” I exclaimed, yanking up his pants quickly. “What-in-the-world is going on, buddy?!”
He wasn’t the least bit sheepish. I was particularly blush for just a moment because of the audience, but shrugged it off soon as a mere minute in our family Halloween history.
Kids are kids.
He may have just been temporarily too hot.
Later, as I mentally reviewed the night’s festivities, I considered Jrue’s pants during trick-or-treating as a metaphor. During some of the most exhilarating, anticipatory instances we can feel as humans, we occasionally find ourselves unexpectedly and unceremoniously pant-less, a symbol for embarrassed or unprepared or stuck, unmovable, by the ankles. It is the manner of life’s abrupt tests that send misfortune out in massive numbers this way. Since there is both limited mobility and few pastoral routes open while the pants are down, it is up to the individual as to how long they’ll remain in that predicament, lamenting shame and affliction or distraction, and how quickly the recovery can take. Optimally, though, we can’t walk the same pattern if we don’t remove the hindrance.
In my four-year-old’s literal experience, regaining composure hastily allowed him to continue to enjoy Halloween. I’m sure that many of my anxious parenting hang-ups can benefit from this more positive approach because they may be, unknowingly, slowing me down.
I have got to pick these pants up.